In Summary

  • Julia has been a farmer all her life, and has resisted the temptation to convert the use of her land from farming to real estate as her farm is surrounded by commercial storey buildings as King’ong’o acquires a new face.
  • Oxygen demand for catfish is lower compared to that of other fish.
  • Onions sit on quarter acre and she just made her first sale to a trader in Nairobi the other day, selling 1,000kg at a wholesale price of Sh40 per kilo.
  • The oxygen demand for catfish is slightly lower compared to that of other fish like trout. It adjusts to different climate changes without stressing the farmer.

The day is bright as Seeds of Gold team heads to King’ong’o, a few kilometres from Nyeri town.

Our destination is Julia Gaitho’s farm, where we find her sorting feeds in a small granary next to her several fishponds sitting on part of her 23 acres.

Julia, 88, has been a farmer all her life, and has resisted the temptation to convert the use of her land from farming to real estate as her farm is surrounded by commercial storey buildings as King’ong’o acquires a new face.

On one side of her farm are two chicken pens. Away from the birds, some lush green plants that include chia, onions and persimmon dance to the gentle wind. And not far away from the crop farm sits the dairy unit and the pigsty.

“Some call me Jack-of-all- trades because of the many things I keep and grow. I also keep fish and do spring onion farming. I have always been an enthusiastic farmer and passion is what drives me,” says Julia, adding she will not stop despite her advancing age.

She keeps two mature cows and a calf, and she is currently milking one, which produces 25 litres everyday earning her gross income of Sh30,000 as a litre goes at Sh40.

At her pigsty, she has two sows and 16 piglets, each having calved down recently to eight young ones. She has reared pigs over the years, initially selling the animals to Farmers’ Choice.

And she is hoping to raise the numbers to reclaim the market, but currently, she sells the animals to fellow farmers at Sh13,200 each.

The octogenarian began growing chia sometime last year, and though a labour-intensive crop especially during harvesting and sorting, she has reaped a lot from the seeds that are a remedy to arthritis.

Gaitho feeds her chicken.

Gaitho feeds her chicken in the expansive farm in Nyeri. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The crop, which matures in four months, occupies an eighth of an acre, from which she harvested last season 54kg earning her over Sh80,000 as each kilo went for Sh1,500.

Onions sit on quarter acre and she just made her first sale to a trader in Nairobi the other day, selling 1,000kg at a wholesale price of Sh40 per kilo.

COLD WEATHER

“I transported the produce to Nairobi and made Sh40,000,” she says, adding she would sale the remaining produce this week. Her chicken farming dates back to her hey days when she was still young. Interestingly, she also keeps quail birds for meat and eggs, with the products being highly sought because they help manage high blood pressure and diabetes.

Currently, she has more than 150 Kuroiler chickens, which she keeps for eggs and meat.

“I sold 192 chickens recently at Sh350 to hotels in Nyeri as they were aged. I am now working to restock the chicken houses this month,” she says.

At the fish farm, a worker clad in a red apron is feeding catfish fish. Julia has built two greenhouses adjacent to each other which host her fish farming venture.

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